How one woman dealt with the loss of her twin while fighting depression and OCD

TUCSON, Ariz. - At just 15-years-old, Amy Frederick was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

OCD is an anxiety disorder which caused people to have unwanted, intrusive thoughts - over and over again. 

It's a disorder Frederick believes her Grandmother battled, too. 

For Frederick, it meant grouping things and people in her head. 

People who do the following may have OCD:

  • Repeatedly check things, perhaps dozens of times, before feeling secure enough to leave the house. Is the stove off? Is the door locked?
  • Fear they will harm others.​ ​​​​​​Example: A man's car hits a pothole on a city street and he fears it was actually a pedestrian and drives back to check for injured persons.
  • Feel dirty and contaminated. Example: A woman is fearful of touching her baby because she might contaminate the child and cause a serious infection.
  • Constantly arrange and order things. Example: A child can't go to sleep unless he lines up all his shoes correctly.
  • Are ruled by numbers, believing that certain numbers represent good and others represent evil. Example: a college student is unable to send an email unless the “correct sequence of numbers” is recalled prior to using his computer.
  • Are excessively concerned with sin or blasphemy in a way that is not the cultural or religious norm for other members of their community. Example: a woman must recite “Hail Mary” thirty-three times every morning before getting out of bed and is frequently late for work because of this.

"My mother and my sister and grandmother are all manic depression. It's weird that I don't have manic depression because I ha\ve an identical twin- you would think that we would have the same thing. But I don't - I'm mostly major depression."

MORE: What is Mental Illness

Frederick was diagnosed with major depression when she was 15. Her worst symptoms came when her twin sister died 21-years ago at the age of 27. She says the pain of losing her twin sister was too much to bear. 

Major Depression symptoms:

  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Poor concentration
  • Loss of energy.
  • Lack of interest.
  • Low self-esteem
  • Hopelessness or guilt
  • Movement changes

MORE: Depressive disorders in children & adolescents

"She was half of me. I just didn't know how I was going to go on without her."

After her sister's death - Frederick checked into the hospital to deal with her depression. She was released but says the thoughts of suicide continued.

MORE: Mental Illness in older adults

"When I came home from cottonwood I was laying in my bed thinking - how can I kill myself."

Fast facts about Suicide Ideation

  • Most people who have suicidal thoughts do not carry them through to their conclusion.
  • Causes of suicidal thoughts can include depression, anxiety, eating disorders such as anorexia, and substance abuse.
  • People with a family history of mental illness are more likely to have suicidal thoughts.

Suicide ideation symptoms: 

  • feeling or appearing to feel trapped or hopeless
  • feeling intolerable emotional pain
  • having or appearing to have an abnormal preoccupation with violence, dying, or death
  • having mood swings, either happy or sad
  • talking about revenge, guilt, or shame
  • being agitated, or in a heightened state of anxiety
  • experiencing changes in personality, routine, or sleeping patterns
  • consuming drugs or more alcohol than usual, or starting drinking when they had not previously done so
  • engaging in risky behavior, such as driving carelessly or taking drugs
  • getting their affairs in order and giving things away
  • getting hold of a gun, medications, or substances that could end a life
  • experiencing depression, panic attacks, impaired concentration
  • increased isolation
  • talking about being a burden to others
  • psychomotor agitation, such as pacing around a room, wringing one's hands, and removing items of clothing and putting them back on
  • saying goodbye to others as if it were the last time
  • seeming to be unable to experience pleasurable emotions from normally pleasurable life events such as eating, exercise, social interaction, or sex
  • severe remorse and self criticism
  • talking about suicide or dying, expressing regret about being alive or ever having been born

Seven years ago, Frederick ended up in the hospital again after her mother passed away. She says, her mother was the only person who understood what she was going through because of she dealt with a mental illness as well. 

It took another tragedy to seek grief therapy - Fredericks father died in 2017. 

"I just learned to deal with it. You need to deal with your grief and get help if you're having a tough time," says Frederick. 

In therapy, Amy wrote goodbye, forgiveness, and apology letters to her family. She says that treatment along with medication helped her focus on the happy thoughts and not the sadness. Amy says, managing her depression is still an everyday challenge but says you can live a normal life with a mental illness. "If you're having trouble with anything - there is help available." 

The confidential National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached toll-free on 1-800-273-TALK(8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

For programs and services at the National Alliance on Metal illness Southern Arizona, click here.

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